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Information for Sponsor Circles Hosting Afghan Arrivals in California

Baby and mom receiving health screeningMan receiving health assessmentChild receiving health assessment

Refugee Health Assessment Program (RHAP)

The Refugee Health Assessment Program (RHAP) provides a comprehensive health assessment to newly arrived refugees, asylees, victims of severe forms of human trafficking (federally certified), and other eligible entrants (e.g., Special Immigrant Visa holders and New Afghan Arrivals paroled into the U.S. on or after July 31, 2021). During these health assessments, clients receive their vaccinations, have lab testing done, and receive any necessary linkages to care. The RHAP assessments must be completed within 90 days of an eligible person's arrival to California. The Office of Refugee Health (ORH) oversees the RHAP program in 11 counties in California.

How to Find a RHAP Clinic

The Refugee Health Assessment Program allows clients to be seen by providers who specialize in care for refugees, asylees, victims of severe forms of human trafficking (federally certified), and other eligible entrants. Currently, the following counties have RHAP clinics: Alameda, Contra Costa, Kern, Los Angeles, Orange, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Francisco, Santa Clara, and Stanislaus. The ORH RHAP County Clinics page has contact information for the RHAP clinics in California.

If your county does not have a RHAP program, the Office of Refugee Health has developed Health Screening Guidelines for Clinicians (PDF) who serve these special populations. Please print out these guidelines for the arrivals you are sponsoring and ask them to take this document to their health care appointment in a non-RHAP county. This will allow the health care provider to better understand health conditions that are more prevalent with the special populations RHAP clinics work with, and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Medical records for Afghans who were on Safe Havens have been sent to the Office of Refugee Health. If you are sponsoring someone in a non-RHAP county, you can have the health clinic request these medical records prior to initial health appointments. Please have the health clinic email with a signed consent form from the client. If you are in a RHAP county, the records have already been shared with the RHAP clinics.

Once the Afghans you are sponsoring arrive in California, sponsor circles should work with clients to apply for Medi-Cal and other public benefits and schedule a refugee health assessment with a RHAP program if they are in a RHAP county. RHAP clinics usually ask clients to split their health assessments in two visits. The first health assessment appointment includes labs and vaccinations and should be scheduled within 30 days of arrival to California. The second health assessment appointment includes a physical exam, lab follow ups, and referrals and should be completed within 90 days of arrival to California. Once a client has been in California for 90 days, they should have Medi-Cal and have established care with a primary care provider for continued medical care.

Flow Chart for Refugee Health Assessment Process

How to Sign Up for Medi-Cal and Public Benefits

Within a few days of arrival to California, sponsor circles should work with the clients to apply for health coverage, Medi-Cal, and other benefits online or by submitting a paper application to your local county Health and Human Services office.

The California Public Benefits fact sheet (PDF) contains more information on how to sign up for public benefits in California.

If applying for California Public Benefits in person, the Public Benefits Application Cover Sheet (PDF) includes a checklist of necessary documents to apply for public benefits in CA.

For more information about benefits eligibility, see the California Department of Social Services Federal Benefits Eligibility for Humanitarian Parolees and Special Immigrant Conditional Permanent Residents from Afghanistan letter (PDF) from December 2, 2021.

Medi-Cal provides comprehensive preventative and restorative dental benefits to eligible children and adults. More information on the Medi-Cal Dental Program can be found on the Dental Care for Medi-Cal Recipients fact sheet (PDF) and on the Department of Health Care Services website.

How to Coordinate Transportation for Doctor, Dentist, or Pharmacy Visits

The Medi-Cal Transport Tool fact sheet (PDF) contains information on how to coordinate transportation for medical, dental, and pharmacy visits.

Perinatal Service Coordinators

Pregnant women are eligible for the Comprehensive Perinatal Services Program, which provides a range of culturally competent services to eligible pregnant women, from conception through 60 days postpartum. The Comprehensive Perinatal Services Program page can be used to find a Perinatal Service Coordinator in your county.

WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) Program

WIC is a health and nutrition program for babies, children under 5, pregnant women, and new mothers. For more information on WIC and to sign up, visit the California Department of Public Health's Women, Infants, and Children Program website.


An Employment Authorization Document (EAD) is required for parolees, SIV holders, asylees, and refugees to work in the United States. More information on how to apply for an EAD or what to do if a client has not received their EAD can be found on the Urgent Notices and Resources for Afghan Arrivals page.

The United States Department of Justice has created a fact sheet on Employment Information Regarding Afghan Special Immigrant Visa Holders and Parolees (PDF). The Refugee and Asylees have the Right to Work – Information for Employers fact sheet (PDF >1 MB) is also a useful resource to share with potential employers who may not be familiar with the refugee, asylee, SIV, or parolee process. 

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